(As you requested, below is a copy of the email you just sent.)
Your Organizer, Sally, sent the following message to some members of LA Cooking and Dining Meetup Group:
Sarah and I had a great time doing very successful grocery shopping at different markets - Korean, Thai and regular ones- and we are so excited to cook in the beautiful kitchen together tomorrow! I hope you are too)
The meetup will start at 11am and end at 2pm.
To set up, Sarah and I will go there earlier at 10am.
It would be great if I could have two helpers who can come a little earlier than 11am.
1) Someone to help setting up, who can also do the last-minute shopping at nearby Ralphs or Bristol Farms if we forget to bring anything...
2) Reception - just to greet everyone and give name tags. They've all pre-paid, so no need to collect payment.
If you can help, please email me. Thank you.
My cell phone number is [masked]. If for any reason you can't attend or will be late, please text or call me (hope it won't happen though!)
Here's the assignment sheet:
Lori, Julie, Katherine, Karen and Nathalie
Green Papaya Salad:
Tony, Monique, Lisa, Tim, Eva an May S
Joel, Payal and John
Lilia, Francis, Norm, Carolyn and Lysa
This is a guideline, and you can help other groups once you're done in your group.
Sarah and I will be checking around, making sure each group is doing OK.
The meetup format will be:
1) Brief self-introduction
2) Sarah will talk about "mise en place": Yes, it's very important to set everything up before actually starting to cook.
We'll make sure each group has a beautiful, organized setting of all the ingredients, condiments, etc, that are needed in the cooking process first before jumping to cook.
3) I bet everyone is curious about shucking the clams. Sarah will show how to do it with shucking knife. You can watch this video too to learn how.
Even if you're not in the chowder group, I have 8 pounds of nice big cherrystone clams, so I'll let you try if you want to.
4) Start preparation in each station
5) Cleaning will be done by the Miele staff, but as a courtesy, it
will be nice to clean your mess.)
6) We'll eat together!)
A few more pointers for you:
1) Parking is tight and you need to park on the street, so give yourself ample time to look for a parking spot so that you won't be late and miss any part of this very special meetup!
2) They have almost everything - equipment, appliances, utensils, spices, condiments, which is a true relief for us.
But I know some people are very particular about their own knives, so you might want to bring your own if that makes it more easier for you.
3) But please don't bring huge appetite lol Meaning.. you shouldn't come
totally empty stomached as the cooking process takes sometime and you
won't be able to eat until done, which is around 1:30pm.
4) It might be a good idea to bring your own container to take home some
food if there's any leftover.
5) I'll bring recipe printouts, but it is highly recommended to at least read
the recipe once, especially of the food you're going to make.
.... I know it will be an amazing day for all of us! Thank you, everyone,
I really look forward to meeting you all and having fun tomorrow!
If you're an organizer of any meetup group, you would probably know that one of the biggest challenges next to no-shows and last minute cancellation is to secure an appropriate venue.
Since the day one 6 years ago when I took over the group, I have experienced the challenge thousand times... This beautiful showroom kitchen in Beverly Hills of a German company called Miele has been on my bucket list for more than 5 years and I'd had no luck with them - every time I contacted them and started scheduling, something would come up and the plan never got developed into actual meetup. I'd been so frustrated, and I'd almost given up.
For this special cooking meetup I posted originally without a venue. I wanted to have a nice large kitchen so we can have fun trying different LA Times best recipes 2013. But I had no luck with our usual venue, Surfas or few other commercial kitchens I had in mind. So I decided to give it one more try and contacted Miele again - it's like re-opening an old case that's gone dormant for quite sometime. I wasn't expecting much, but this time the newer manager Lisa was very helpful and she made my dream come true! I'm so glad I hadn't given up completely, and I owe this to my other fellow organizer too who encouraged me to contact them again. I really appreciate the help I get and Thank you so much, Lisa!
If you are an avid cook, you would be really really excited to cook in this amazing kitchen, exploring many professional high quality kitchen appliances. You will be in heaven! And it will be a great opportunity for you if you're ever thinking of remodeling your kitchen.
Only problem was that the kitchen wasn't available on March 8th as I originally posted, so it's changed to
Sat March 15th, 11am to 2pm.
Sorry for the date change if that affects you, and if you can't attend any more because of the change, please change your RSVP to give up the spot to someone else.
To attend, please sign up with $35 prepayment by Paypal. It includes food cost, use of the facility and cleanup, so all you need to bring is yourself with your knife and apron if you like and we will taste the finished food togeter. I will email more details to the attendees with the prepayment regarding how we do it together - who will cook which dishes at which station, etc. I'm so excited!!
Looking forward to cooking together with you,
You know I love to come up with a new idea/series) This one is about cooking and trying new recipes together. Let's start with the LA Times Best Recipes 2013:
"Best recipes of 2013 (Los Angeles Times)
The Southern California food scene is hotter than it's been in at least 30 years. You'd have to go back to the mid-1980s to find a time when there was this much excitement. That goes for all kinds of restaurants, from strip-mall Sichuan to experimental fine dining, and for home cooking as well.
The Times Test Kitchen has been busy keeping up with that diversity. We tested hundreds of recipes in 2013, and narrowing it to our favorite 10 was even more of a challenge than usual.
We've got recipes that will challenge experienced cooks, such as chef Thomas Keller's amazing sunchoke and leek panna cotta with caviar, and we've got recipes that will allow even kitchen beginners to shine -- great flavor doesn't come much more easily than Deborah Madison's nearly candied quince.
There really is something for everyone here: Sichuan dandan noodles from Sang Yoon and biscuits from Govind Armstrong. You won't find desserts any sweeter than chef Karen Hatfield's hazelnut brown butter torte or Nancy Silverton's olive oil cake. We've got chef Michael Cimarusti's clear clam chowder, Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter's German pancakes and lots more."
...I picked a few recipes that I thought good for group cooking. The meetup date and time is still tentative, depending on which commercial kitchen I would rent, but I just wanted to give you a headsup and time to think about which recipe(s) you would like to try making together.
I'm thinking of renting Surfas kitchen in Culver City for 3 hours (plus setup and cleanup for 30 min each), and the format is going to be that each group of 3-4 participants will cook together one dish. At the end we'll sit down and eat all the dishes together.
I'll paste the recipes below, and all levels of cooks welcome, but please let me know your level beforehand so that I can better coordinate...
Recipes used for Let’s Cook Together Meetup (1) at Miele
Sat March 15, 2014 11am - 2pm
from LA Times Best Recipes 2013
LA Cooking and Dining Meetup Group
1. Clear chowder
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
"The mark of a great clam chowder is not whether your spoon will stand straight up in it. It's whether it delivers the clean, fresh taste of great shellfish. And who knows more about clams than Michael Cimarusti, chef at notable seafood restaurants Providence and Connie and Ted's? This is chowder stripped to its essentials: clams, salt pork and potatoes. And it's absolutely delicious."
3 3/4 pounds quahog or cherrystone clams
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
2 2/3 ounces (75 grams) salt pork
About 1 2/3 cups (150 grams) white onion, small dice
Clam broth, up to 1 3/4 cups (400 grams)
14 ounces (400 grams) baking potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) kosher salt
Dice onion and potatoes.
Rinse the clams well under cold running water, scrubbing their shells with a brush.
Dry the clams a bit and place them in the freezer for one hour.
(This kills the clams and makes them much easier to open.)
Shuck the clams and reserve every drop of juice that drips from them.
Coarsely chop the clams and place them in a covered plastic container, separate from the clam juice.
Refrigerate the clams until you are ready to finish the soup.
Measure the clam juice; you will need 1 3/4 cups (make up for any shortage using canned clam broth).
Rinse the salt pork well under cold running water.
Dice the salt pork into one-fourth-inch cubes.
Rinse it again once it is diced, for a minimum of five minutes.
Drain well and set aside.
Melt the butter in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat.
Add the salt pork to the butter and stir until the salt pork begins to render.
Add the onions and cook them slowly, stirring often, until translucent (do not allow them to brown).
Add the clam juice and the diced potatoes, and bring the soup to a simmer.
Cook the soup just until the potatoes are done.
Remove the soup from heat, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. This makes about 1 quart of soup.
Transfer the soup to a bowl set over a bowl of ice to stop the cooking and cool the soup quickly.
Cover and refrigerate until needed. The soup is best made one day ahead of time, to give the flavors time to meld.
Before serving, re-warm the soup: Bring it to a simmer, check the seasoning and add 2 ounces of chopped clams for every (1 cup) serving of chowder.
Cook the clams for a minute or two while stirring. Ladle the soup into warm bowls.
White chowder: Simmer 2 1/4 cups heavy cream over low heat until it is reduced by half, then add it to the clear chowder.
2. Green papaya salad with rau ram, peanuts and crispy shallots
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup peeled and finely julienned carrots
Peel and Julienne carrots.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt, and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Add the carrots and let stand for at least 20 minutes before serving.
This makes about one-half cup pickled carrots. If not using right away, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.
Drain the carrots well before using.
<Flavored fish sauce>
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 Thai chiles, stemmed and minced
Stem and Mince Thai chiles.
In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, sugar, vinegar or lemon juice, and one-half cup water, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the garlic and chiles, and stir to combine.
This makes about 1 1/2 cups flavored fish sauce, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, up to 1 week if made with vinegar or up to 2 days if made with lemon juice.
<Crispy fried shallots>
2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large shallots)
2 cups canola oil
Slice shallots thinly.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high until it registers 275 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.
Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Increase the heat to high and place a fine-mesh sieve over a heat-proof bowl.
When the oil registers 350 degrees, add the fried shallots and cook just until they are crispy and well-browned, 1 to 2 seconds, watching carefully so the shallots don't burn.
Immediately pour the oil and shallots through the sieve to stop the cooking, then transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
This makes about 1 cup fried shallots. Reserve the oil for another use. The shallots will keep, stored in an airtight container, for 1 day, but they're best the day they are made.
2 cups canola oil
6 ounces medium-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 3-inch squares, 1/4-inch thick
1 large green papaya (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded and finely julienned with a mandoline or sharp knife (about 5 cups shredded)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh rau ram or a mixture of spearmint and cilantro
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise into half moons (about 1 cup)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Pickled Carrots
3/4 cup Flavored Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons shallot oil or canola oil
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped, for garnish
1/3 cup crispy fried shallots, for garnish
Pat dry and cut tofu into 3-inch squares, 1/4-inch thick.
Peel, halve, seed and finely julienne green papaya with a mandoline or sharp knife.
Coarsely chop fresh rau ram.
Halve cucumbers lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise into half moons.
Thinly slice celery stalks.
Finely chop roasted peanuts.
In an 8-inch frying pan, heat the canola oil over high heat until it registers 350 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer.
Carefully add the tofu slices and fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to paper towels to drain. When cool, cut into strips one-fourth-inch wide.
In a large bowl, combine the papaya, rau ram, cucumber, celery, carrot and tofu strips.
Pour the flavored fish sauce and shallot oil over the top and toss to coat evenly.
Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the peanuts and shallots.
3. Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce
( Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )
"No doubt about it: 2013 was the year of Sriracha. Not only was the Southeast Asian chile-garlic sauce one of the year's hottest seasonings, showing up in everything from vodka to potato chips, it was also one of the year's hottest stories, as the giant Huy Fong plant in Irwindale was the subject of legal action that threatened to shut down production. Not to worry, should the worst happen, Times Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter has come up with a recipe for making your own."
1 pound mixed fresh red chiles (such as red Fresnos or jalapenos), stemmed and chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cane or rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, more if desired
2 tablespoons palm or light brown sugar, more if desired
Stem and chop mixed fresh red chiles.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the chiles, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar to form a coarse paste.
Transfer the mixture to a non-reactive saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the aroma softens or mellows a bit, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Blend the sauce again to form a smooth paste, thinning as desired with water.
Strain the sauce, pressing the solids through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Taste the sauce, and tweak the flavors as desired with additional salt, sugar or vinegar.
Remove the sauce to a glass jar or bottle and cool completely.
Refrigerate until needed.
4. Hazelnut brown butter torte with bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (11.5 ounces) powdered sugar
1 cup (3.6 ounces) almond flour
2/3 cup (2.9 ounces) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup egg whites, from about 7 eggs
1/2 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Brown the butter: In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat and cook until the butter melts and browns, taking on a nutty aroma, 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook or the butter will burn.
Remove from heat and cool to warm before using.
While the butter is cooling, prepare the pan: Grease a decorative 10-inch cake or tart pan with butter and flour, or line with parchment.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl, sift together the powdered sugar with the almond flour, cake flour and salt.
With the mixer running, or using a hand mixer, add the egg whites in a steady stream.
Once combined, quickly add the hazelnut oil, then the butter, and mix just until combined; be careful not to overmix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, filling the pan three-fourths of the way full.
Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate and hazelnuts, as well as the granulated sugar.
Bake until the torte is puffed and medium brown on top, about 35 minutes.
Cool before serving.
Do you remember the time that The LA Times was still delivering paper version of Food Section on Thursdays? It was my Thursday morning ritual to wake up early and get the paper from the front lawn, sometimes drenched from sprinkler. I'd make a fresh cup of tea or coffee and was excited to open the food section page. Well, it was way before internet came in... Gee, I feel as if I'm a living fossil now telling this story lol But anyway, I've learned a lot from reading the paper and trying new recipes... I'd clip recipes and try to make at least one or two recipes a week... Off to the market after checking the fridge for ingredients and adding the missing ones to my grocery list.. Good old days when people still didn't know that a computer could be shrunk to fit in the palm of your hand.. Time flies lol
Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that I've been an avid fan of LA Times food section and while I was reading the Best Recipes 2013, I came up with this idea to actually try some of the best recipes and taste together as a group. That must be fun.)
Please click the link below to see the best recipes chosen by LA Times Test Kitchen: